HVAC Training & Certification in Ohio

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In the Buckeye State, there is a wealth of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC-R) professionals, as well as a thriving tradition of energy conservation among citizens. For instance, Cleveland’s ABC News affiliate reports that two major Ohio companies — Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream and Great Lakes Brewing –make many of their business decisions based on how to promote sustainability. At Mitchell’s ice cream kitchen, all rain water is collected and resued while hot water is heated using energy lost from their freezers.

In addition to energy-conscious citizens, Ohio boasts a number of professional trade associations to support workers in the HVAC industry. For example, the Air Conditioning Contractors of Ohio (ACCO) represents firms throughout the state who install, repair, and perform maintenance on HVAC systems. Boasting over 200 members, this not-for-profit organization hosts conferences, provides worker advocacy, and assists people in the industry with networking. Furthermore, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (PHCC) of Ohio is another exemplary organization which has been in operation for more than 125 years. It has a political action committee (PAC) to protect HVAC professionals against unnecessary regulation, overbearing legislation, and more. In sum, there’s no shortage of resources available for HVAC workers in the state.

Professionals in this industry take on a number of varied tasks. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) offered a breakdown of some common job responsibilities in the HVAC industry, which include installing and maintaining HVAC systems; troubleshooting and repairing machine components (e.g., wiring, piping, motors, ducts, drains, intake valves, fans, humidifiers, unit controls, hot water boilers, hermetic compressors, economizers); providing recommendations on improving system performance or energy efficiency; calculating heat loads & losses; and keeping up-to-date with certifications or licensure. While permits are not required for general HVAC technicians, commercial HVAC contractors in the state must seek licensure from the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB).

This guide serves to give Ohio residents a snapshot of what to expect from entering a career in HVAC. Read on to discover the bright occupational outlook, salary prospects, training schools, and contractor licensing for HVAC workers in OH.

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Demand for HVAC Workers in OH

For aspiring HVAC technicians, mechanics, and installers in Ohio and beyond, the employment prospects look bright. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) expects that there will be a 15 percent increase in job openings in this field between 2016 and 2026, significantly more robust than the average growth expected across all occupations during that time period (just 7 percent). And the prospects may be even brighter in Ohio. As proof of point, Projections Central (2017) indicates the same anticipated 15 percent increase in openings when looking at Ohio along. With the expected addition of 1,380 fresh positions in coming years, the HVAC industry is expected to thrive into the future.

One of the main benefits of pursuing a career in HVAC is the relatively high salary for a career typically requiring only one to two years of postsecondary education. It is important to note that receiving the proper training is essential, especially since HVAC workers incur a relatively high rate of injury as compared with other occupations. This is due to the physical nature of the work, which can expose these professionals to electrical shock, muscle strains, burns, and other problems. That said, with the proper training and safety equipment, these maladies can generally be kept to a minimum.

The BLS (2017) notes that approximately one in ten HVAC workers nationwide are self-employed and have the ability to make their own schedules. While some HVAC technicians work normal business hours, others may be called upon to work evenings, weekends, or holidays, particularly during the busier summer and winter seasons.

As stated above, there is no shortage of opportunities in this industry, particularly in Ohio. In fact, Indeed (Nov. 2018) listed an astonishing 2,722 openings in HVAC work in the Buckeye State, including positions at Dawson Services, Total Line Refrigeration, Columbus City Schools, Sodexo Inc., and Liberty Air. At the same time, Monster (Nov. 2018) lists an additional 471 jobs at organizations like Randstad, Emcor, and Sears Home Services.

HVAC Salaries in OH

Nationwide and in Ohio, HVAC workers earn relatively generous salaries compared to occupations with similar educational attainment. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) reported that there were 307,060 HVAC workers around the country with an average annual salary of $49,530. In Ohio, average salaries were a bit lower, with the 11480 HVAC workers employed in the state earning an average of $47,240 per year. Following is a more detailed breakdown of the comparison between OH salaries and those of the rest of the country.

Annual salary Hourly salary
United States Ohio United States Ohio
Average $49,530 $47,240 $23.81 $22.71
10th percentile $29,120 $28,120 $14.00 $13.52
25th percentile $36,150 $35,400 $17.38 $17.02
50th percentile $47,080 $46,150 $22.64 $22.19
75th percentile $60,270 $58,260 $28.98 $28.01
90th percentile $75,330 $68,070 $36.22 $32.73

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, Payscale (Nov. 2018), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

United States: 889 HVAC workers responding

  • 10th percentile: $29,000
  • 25th percentile: $36,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,532
  • 75th percentile: $56,000
  • 90th percentile: $71,000

An additional 4,873 HVAC workers gave Payscale their hourly salary figures, resulting in these percentile wages:

  • 10th percentile: $13.00/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.00/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $19.24/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.00/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $30.00/hr.

As noted above, the average salary for HVAC workers in Ohio is a bit lower than that of the rest of the nation. As with any salary projections, taking into account the cost of living is also important. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2018) ranked Ohio 16th in terms of affordability, making the cost of living lower than average. Ohio residents can expect to find, in particular, big savings when it comes to the cost of housing. For HVAC technicians this means that even a lower than average salary will go further in Ohio than it would in many other states.

The BLS designated 15 regions within Ohio for which employment data is available. The 150 HVAC workers in the Springfield, OH area earned the highest average salary in the state at $53,880 while the 860 workers in Dayton had the lowest average salary at $41,460. Following are the detailed salary data for the state of Ohio:

Akron, OH (1100 HVAC workers): $43,470 annual average salary

Akron, OH
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $43,470 $20.90
10th percentile $23,200 $11.16
25th percentile $32,110 $15.44
50th percentile $40,700 $19.57
75th percentile $54,830 $26.36
90th percentile $67,850 $32.62

Canton-Massillon, OH (180 HVAC workers): $47,210 annual average salary

Canton-Massillon, OH
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $47,210 $22.70
10th percentile $31,330 $15.06
25th percentile $37,740 $18.14
50th percentile $48,080 $23.11
75th percentile $57,470 $27.63
90th percentile $63,010 $30.30

Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN (2320 HVAC workers): $46,930 annual average salary

Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $46,930 $22.56
10th percentile $28,130 $13.52
25th percentile $35,790 $17.21
50th percentile $46,530 $22.37
75th percentile $57,170 $27.49
90th percentile $65,300 $31.39

Cleveland-Elyria, OH (1930 HVAC workers): $52,540 annual average salary

Cleveland-Elyria, OH
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $52,540 $25.26
10th percentile $32,090 $15.43
25th percentile $41,470 $19.94
50th percentile $50,680 $24.37
75th percentile $62,060 $29.84
90th percentile $77,290 $37.16

Columbus, OH (2120 HVAC workers): $48,640 annual average salary

Columbus, OH
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $48,640 $23.38
10th percentile $32,100 $15.43
25th percentile $37,980 $18.26
50th percentile $48,490 $23.31
75th percentile $58,880 $28.31
90th percentile $65,170 $31.33

Dayton, OH (860 HVAC workers): $41,160 annual average salary

Dayton, OH
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $41,160 $19.79
10th percentile $21,350 $10.27
25th percentile $28,740 $13.82
50th percentile $37,900 $18.22
75th percentile $55,280 $26.58
90th percentile $62,670 $30.13

Eastern Ohio nonmetropolitan area (400 HVAC workers): $46,910 annual average salary

Eastern Ohio nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $46,910 $22.55
10th percentile $31,260 $15.03
25th percentile $34,280 $16.48
50th percentile $38,770 $18.64
75th percentile $64,370 $30.95
90th percentile $75,470 $36.28

Lima, OH (190 HVAC workers): $46,040 annual average salary

Lima, OH
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $46,040 $22.13
10th percentile $31,710 $15.24
25th percentile $35,920 $17.27
50th percentile $43,970 $21.14
75th percentile $56,590 $27.21
90th percentile $66,850 $32.14

Mansfield, OH (130 HVAC workers): $44,180 annual average salary

Mansfield, OH
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $44,180 $21.24
10th percentile $33,130 $15.93
25th percentile $36,630 $17.61
50th percentile $42,880 $20.62
75th percentile $49,890 $23.99
90th percentile $60,300 $28.99

North Northeastern Ohio nonmetropolitan area (680 HVAC workers): $44,500 annual average salary

North Northeastern Ohio nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $44,500 $21.39
10th percentile $28,440 $13.67
25th percentile $35,130 $16.89
50th percentile $44,800 $21.54
75th percentile $54,290 $26.10
90th percentile $61,250 $29.45

Southern Ohio nonmetropolitan area (370 HVAC workers): $44,300 annual average salary

Southern Ohio nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $44,300 $21.30
10th percentile $24,210 $11.64
25th percentile $31,270 $15.03
50th percentile $39,640 $19.06
75th percentile $57,950 $27.86
90th percentile $72,580 $34.89

Springfield, OH (150 HVAC workers): $53,880 annual average salary

Springfield, OH
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $53,880 $25.91
10th percentile $40,240 $19.35
25th percentile $47,930 $23.04
50th percentile $55,320 $26.60
75th percentile $61,050 $29.35
90th percentile $64,440 $30.98

Toledo, OH (740 HVAC workers): $46,530 annual average salary

Toledo, OH
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $46,530 $22.37
10th percentile $24,170 $11.62
25th percentile $33,180 $15.95
50th percentile $42,710 $20.53
75th percentile $58,610 $28.18
90th percentile $73,590 $35.38

West Northwestern Ohio nonmetropolitan area (460 HVAC workers): $51,210 annual average salary

West Northwestern Ohio nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $51,210 $24.62
10th percentile $32,840 $15.79
25th percentile $38,690 $18.60
50th percentile $48,450 $23.29
75th percentile $61,460 $29.55
90th percentile $75,490 $36.29

Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA (170 HVAC workers): $46,630 annual average salary

Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $46,630 $22.42
10th percentile $32,610 $15.68
25th percentile $36,030 $17.32
50th percentile $44,520 $21.40
75th percentile $56,210 $27.02
90th percentile $64,850 $31.18

Accredited HVAC Schools in Ohio

Prior to seeking employment as an HVAC technician, mechanic or installer in OH, it’s important to get training to adequately prepare for the job. Some Ohio residents choose to enroll in apprenticeship programs, which include 2,000 or more hours of on-the-job training under the guidance of an experienced professional; others choose to seek out an HVAC program at a trade school or university. When considering any training option, it’s important to verify that it has received proper accreditation. In the HVAC field, there are two main entities which accredit schools and college programs: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). Ohio has the distinction of having one school with both types of accreditation, as well as seven additional PAHRA-accredited programs.

One of the schools with both accreditations is the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima, which offers an associate degree in HVAC technology. This rigorous program boasts small class sizes, various campus clubs, and a curriculum which is 70 percent hands-on training. Classes include applications of refrigeration & temperature controls; air conditioning systems & controls; service & procedures; air conditioning systems & controls; electronics; heat pump systems & controls; and more. This program is also offered as a diploma.

The Pike County Career Tech Center of Piketon also has accreditation from PAHRA and offers a two-year technical program with training in gas & electric heating; the refrigeration cycle; brazing & soldering; basic electricity; air conditioning & troubleshooting skills. Additionally, students are prepared to take the EPA 608 certification (discussed below) and the HVAC Excellence HEAT exam as well.

The Miami Valley Career Center in Clayton is PAHRA-accredited and provides various training courses for HVAC professions in blueprint reading; fuel systems; job safety; metal fabrication; and fuel systems. Additionally, students have the opportunity to earn the EPA 608 and Industry Competency Exam (ICE) certifications.

Finally, the Great Oaks Institute of Technology has campuses in Cincinnati and Milford which offer a 900-hour (i.e., 45-week) program with multi-pronged training in the field. This program is designed to prepare students for various competency-based certifications such as those from the National Center for Construction Education and Research, ICE (administered by NATE), and the EPA. Coursework includes training in concepts of electricity; installing & troubleshooting heating systems; servicing & repairing refrigeration equipment; indoor air quality; and more. Students from Great Oaks have gone on to qualify for the Associated Builders and Contractors Apprenticeship Program.

For some prospective HVAC workers residing in more rural regions or for those with time commitments which make attending an on-campus program difficult, there are various distance-based programs available. To learn about these training options, check out the online HVAC schools page.

Ohio HVAC Licensure

For Ohio residents interested in careers in HVAC, it’s important to have proper credentialing prior to seeking employment. There is one mandatory certification for all professionals who work with refrigerants: the EPA Section 608 certification. Due to the environmentally harmful nature of the chemicals used in refrigeration, it’s essential to have the proper training in their proper use and disposal. There are four categories of this certification: type I (small appliances), type II (high-pressure refrigerants), type III (low-pressure refrigerants), and type IV (universal). There are also various national organizations which test HVAC workers and provide skill-based credentialing as well. These include the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), North American Technician Excellence (NATE), and HVAC Excellence. To learn in depth about the options available from these entities, please check out the HVAC certifications page.

While no state license is required for general technicians in Ohio, those seeking to become commercial contractors must seek licensure through the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB). In order to qualify for an HVAC contractors license in Ohio, candidates must be at least 18 years of age and submit the following:

  • Proof of at least five years of experience as a tradesperson under a licensed contractor in the field (including a copy of at least one permit from a project), or be a registered engineer with at least three years of business experience working in HVAC
  • Passing score on the OCI Examining Board’s test
  • Background check
  • Proof of having at least $500,000 in contractor liability insurance
  • Application fee ($25)

To maintain these licenses, contractors must complete ten hours of continuing education annually. Lastly, Ohio boasts licensing reciprocity in HVAC with four states: Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Therefore, people with credentials from these states will find it relatively easy to pursue HVAC work in Ohio, and vice versa for OH HVAC contractors seeking work in those states.

Because licensure requirements can vary by municipality, HVAC professionals in Ohio should ensure that they are operating within the requirements of the state as well as they city where they work. It is the job of any HVAC technician to verify licensure requirement and keep their credentialing up to date.